Pole EVOLINK 140 Review – Viva La Revolución
Over the past year, the Pole EVOLINK 140 29 EN has sparked more interest on the trails than any other bike we’ve been out riding! Not just because of its bold blue paint job and narrow tube profile, but mainly because of its radical geometry. A long bike means straight-line speed, but we wanted to find out whether this dragster could take corners too….
Leo Kokkonen is breaking new ground with his brand Pole. As more and more enduro bikes adopt the same old geometry, there’s a forward-thinking Finn who some might argue is pushing the limits of physics with the Pole EVOLINK 140 29. With a giant wheelbase of 1,314 mm (size L), the Pole even makes some purebred downhill bikes look short and stubby. Don’t believe us? Just take this comparison: a Specialized Demo in a size L is just 1,228 mm – almost 10 cm shorter. Then there’s the head angle on the Pole EVOLINK 140 29, measuring 64.5°, which to us screams downhill rather than enduro – and that’s with 29″ wheels. Given these figures, its downhilling performance isn’t really in question, but how will it perform on more mellow trails and even climbs?
Get on and go!
Regardless of which ENDURO rider got on the Pole Evolink 140, the reactions were always the same: “Damn, that’s so balanced!” Their reactions weren’t confined to the car park either; even on the trails they all commented on its performance. Thanks to its steep 77.5° seat angle, it can comfortably tackle even the steepest climbs, while the slack head angle shows no signs of laziness, tracking the ground well. All you’ve got to do is relax and pedal; the efficient rear end and 29″ wheels will take control of the rest.
But let’s be honest: being able to climb is an asset, but aren’t we all more interested in whether the Pole EVOLINK 140 29 can be thrown down the descents as promised? Fortunately, the Pole doesn’t disappoint, be it on steep, gnarly bike park-style tracks to varied home trails and even perfectly manicured flow trails. The long chainstays and high stack contribute to the super-balanced handling, and it’s easy for the rider to suss out weight distribution. Manualing and quick changes of direction require a bit of muscle given its length, but once you’ve got used to the maneuvering then it’ll get around any turn. A big bike means plenty of real estate to put your body where it needs to be, so when it gets gnarly expect the Pole to ride like its on rails and act forgivingly. The rear works best at around 30% sag, with great responsiveness and defined feedback. Its mid-stroke travel is supportive, and there was no bottoming-out on big hits. Our test bike varied slightly from the production model, but we had no real cause for concern other than the front tire choice of a MAXXIS Aggressor, which prompted some raised eyebrows. Fortunately, the production bike comes with WTB rubber anyway.
The geometry of the Pole EVOLINK 140[/emaillocker]
The Pole EVOLINK 140 in detail
Fork: RockShox Pike
Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC
Drivetrain: SRAM X01
Seatpost: Race Face Turbine
Stem: Easton Haven
Bars: Easton Haven Carbon 750 mm
Wheels: DT SWISS EX 1501 Spline One
Tires: WTB Vigilante / Trailboss
Weight: 14.00 kg
Price: € 5,600
Pole is bringing the bike world to a revolution! Their radical geometry concept with this super-long bike is proof that bare numbers on paper can’t be translated directly to the trails. It’s also really refreshing to see that bike development is still alive and thriving – we can see huge potential in future bikes. The EVOLINK 140 EN is setting a new standard in terms of geometry: it tackles descents unstoppably and still manages to grind its way up climbs with ease. Oh, and the fact that it’s a folding bike is just a side-story that’s overshadowed by its superb ride!
- Incredibly balanced handling
- First-rate rear end
- Needs muscle to manual
For more information visit the Pole website
Interview with Leo Kokkonen
Hi Leo, can you tell us what the benefit of the EVOLINK Geometry compared to a “classic modern” mountain bike geometry is?
EVOLINK geometry makes riding easier and more stable when your weight is centered on the bike. The rider benefits on uphills, downhills and even on a technical flat trail. The balanced position creates stability and safety which equals faster rides. The slacker head angle not only helps on downhills but also on technical flats as the suspension works more natural way rather than pushing the handlebars up and down. With a slacker head angle, hard front braking creates less twist to the fork, which means more control. The difference is all about the balance and control. On a “classic modern” bike the rider’s weight is biased towards the rear tire and weight shifts cause more imbalance to the bike creating sudden loss of traction or change of direction. Shorter bikes could be referred as “lively” where EVOLINK is calm.
Is this geometry concept designed for aggressive riders and racers only or is it also good for beginners?
Anyone who wants to make their riding easier and smoother benefits from better balance created by the longer wheelbase because it’s just easier to ride from the centre of the bike. The only people who don’t benefit on bigger bike is the one’s who are doing tricks because it’s easier to shift balance between axles on a short wheelbase like BMX. EVOLINK creates a feeling that you are flying on a fighter jet rather than riding a wild horse.
Do you think more and more manufacturers will start producing longer and slacker bikes?
Actually I don’t care. We have done our own research and development from a clean desk and this is our thing, we don’t care what other companies do. To get to this point we have developed the suspension, frame characteristics and transmission kinematics from scratch. Our long geometry demands different needs because your weight is balanced differently and the bike is going through different stress.